• Bible,  Culture,  Life,  Theology

    Why We Need Each Other Now More Than Ever: Christian Ethics in the Age of Coronavirus

    The world’s changed dramatically, perhaps indefinitely. Similarly to how things were different after 9/11 or after the Great Recession of 2008, I suspect that life after the Coronavirus will always be a little different. I don’t mean that in an end-of-the-world apocalyptic sort of way. I don’t think the world’s ending. And I think — I hope and pray anyway — that most of us will come through this global pandemic. Tragically, there’s already been and will continue to be loss of life. I grieve for those families. But the scientists and health experts working on this seem to be assuring us that while some people are at significantly greater…

  • Faith,  Life,  Spirituality,  Theology

    Jesus Pooped (And Other Implications of the Incarnation)

    I admit the title’s clickbaity. That was intentional. Is it irreverent? Maybe. Although I don’t think there’s anything irreverent about natural bodily functions. And if you’re offended, I’m sorry. But try to hear me out. Because the fact of the matter is, if the Incarnation is true — if Jesus really was fully and truly a human being — then he did poop. And pee. And burp and fart. And hunger. And thirst. And laugh and love. And cry. And everything else we humans do and experience. I think we struggle to entirely appreciate this, let alone accept it. I know I do, anyway. My guess is that many of…

  • Faith,  Life,  Spirituality,  Theology

    Why Christmas Is Just Getting Started

    There’s a radio station in our area that starts playing Christmas songs 24-7 on Thanksgiving Day or the day after. The station’s been doing this for several years, providing a soundtrack for the busy holiday season. While I haven’t typically tuned in, this year I did. I remember I was driving southbound on Michigan Street in our city, heading to work. I was at a stoplight, flipping through the radio stations, impatient that most were on commercial. And then I landed on the 24-7 Christmas songs station. They were in the midst of White Christmas, which happens to be not only one of my favorite Christmas songs but also one…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    The Scandal of the Savior’s Birth

    We’ve all probably seen a children’s nativity play. But even if you haven’t, you can perhaps imagine the gist. They’re usually a creative conflation of the two different stories we have about Jesus’s birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. There’s the setting in a manger at night, of course, with shepherds and angelic choirs, from Luke’s version. There are the Magi — the three wise men from the East — from Matthew’s version, though Matthew reports that the wise men showed up sometime after Jesus was born, not the night of his birth. And there is, of course, Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, the central characters of…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    When God’s Vengeance and Recompense Are Good News

    I heard a lot about God’s wrath and judgment as a kid growing up in the church. God hated sin and I was a sinner deserving God’s wrath and judgment. That’s why Jesus came — to take the punishment I deserved. The implicit theology I learned was that Jesus, who was loving and merciful, saved me from God, who was mean and angry. This was something to be thankful for. Because of Jesus, I’d get to go to heaven instead of hell when I died. But there was also the end of the world to be concerned about. In the church and all the TV preacher programs that provided a…

  • Bible,  Theology

    The Prophets Were Preachers Not Prognosticators

    Recently someone asked me if I thought there were still Old Testament prophecies that needed to be fulfilled. The question is a familiar one that I was asked many times when I served as an ordained minister and lead pastor for 10 years. It’s a sincere inquiry, revealing a desire to be discerning of the times, faithful to Scripture, and seeing how the Bible may be speaking to our world today. Unfortunately, the question also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical prophets and their prophecies. The biblical prophets were primarily preachers, not prognosticators. They were concerned about their immediate context — their time and place in history, not the…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    The Way of Jesus Is The Way of Love and Inclusivity

    I think love and inclusivity are the central virtues of Jesus’s kingdom vision. I’ve thought this for quite a while. And it’s a significant reason why I resigned from my post and surrendered my ministry credentials after 10 years as a lead pastor in a conservative evangelical denomination. I reached a point where I couldn’t be the pastor I believed that God called and gifted me to be, the pastor I wanted to be, and I couldn’t love people — all people — the way I believed Jesus’s central kingdom virtues demanded. The denomination was fond of saying that we welcomed all people. But we really didn’t. We welcomed them…